On the Role of Switching Costs and Decision Reversibility in Information Technology Adoption and Investment

Dmitriy V Chulkov


Managerial decisions on the adoption of innovative technologies by a firm are made under conditions of uncertainty and must account for network externalities that imply the benefit of a technology is received not only from its intrinsic payoff, but also from the size of the network of other adopters. The theoretical model presented in this study demonstrates that for firms evaluating information technology investment with network effects key determinants of the technology selection pattern are adoption reversibility and switching costs. If switching costs are sufficiently high to make technology adoption irreversible then safer established technologies have an advantage as choosing a riskier untested technology opens the firm to the risk of being stranded without a network of followers. With lower switching costs, the technology adoption decision is reversible which provides an advantage to riskier untested technologies.
A discussion of empirical evidence on adoption patterns in information technology provides application for the theoretical model.


Information technology, technology adoption, switching costs, reversible decisions

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4301/S1807-17752017000300001

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